Developing a lab for working with digital media

I am involved in a wonderful project to develop a Film and Media Lab at Bard Early College (BHSEC Queens). I was very sure about what I would be doing in this class: writing a grant for a lab.

But as the discussions progressed for the project more issues seemed to come up. If it is a Film and Media Lab then is it going to be just a place to make or study film? And then how is Media Studies involved with Film Studies? As we were contemplating this question we realized that the acronym would be FML!  Do we want it to be FML when we are teaching HS age students? Perhaps not.

Maybe then we can have it as a Film and New Media Lab… maybe that would fix the bridge between media and film. But still it was becoming hard to envision this as a space for film screenings and film production work or a place to teach kids python or other forms of digital literacy.

Maybe we should just keep it Digital Media Lab or Digital Media Arts Lab?

These are the small funny little discussions my colleague Suzanne Schulz and I are finding ourselves in as we develop this digi-lab.

Fortunately, we have a supportive administration. And we were able to articulate ourselves well enough to win a grant for new equipment.  We were given a grant for a cart of laptops, with some film editing software (which ones we are not sure yet).  Some boxes that we thought were tech for recordings turned out to be a lectern.  So we have a little more waiting and seeing before we have a full inventory.

The next step is agreeing up on a room where we can test-run this mobile digital media lab. We have a very long semester that lasts until June, so perhaps we may start well after the semester ends here at GC.

Space has been an issue all on its own. In our small space, BHSECQ is two floors in the LaGuardia Community College building, we have the choice of either a small windowless room that fits only 18 students, or a windowless room that fits 25 students but is L-shaped. Then there is a room that stores old chairs and broken office furniture. Perhaps we can clear it out and create a video editing room and a training room? But then this is also the room with a vent that connects straight into the cafeteria…

My project is to raise more funding and fully define, along with my colleague and friend, Suzanne Schulz, at BHSEC Queens a mission statement for the… well, what seems to be best described as a making space, so perhaps we will keep it as a The Digital Media Arts Lab. We hope to train students and faculty in audio and visual communication, or we are training students and faculty in increasing their digital literacy (still debating which sounds better as a mission statement or grant request line). We will definitely be creating a space for experimentation and play.

What is interesting is that with students at this age level, we need to go through a special office for permission to post video/media works that students put together that show their face. (This makes sense and it is a simple process, but something I had never thought of before!)

I was thinking that I could also use this class to develop a workshop for faculty around complicating the notion of the canon. Our students are protesting the predominantly Greek and Italian material in First Year Seminar. But I will revisit this once again in another week. We are still working on a mission statement and the goal is to complete it by April 9th.

We have some amazing students who are working with us. They will be sharing their video and digital media projects to a proposed website that will showcase their work.

I will make an official list of what we got and what we still need. I believe we received about $25000 because the laptops are equipped to edit video. Thank you for offering this space for me to think through some of the planning of this space. We have an amazing tech specialist at BHSECQ Adam Rhodes and a young filmmaker Sara Aboobaker to help develop this ______Lab!


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